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November 20, 2023

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Are you confident your insurance shields you from unexpected weather woes in the UAE?

Heavy rain and thunderstorms struck the Emirates on Friday, causing disruption.

The wet weather caused 13 flights to be redirected away from Dubai International Airport, while waterlogged streets across the country have caused significant delays for motorists.

Given the adverse driving conditions, vehicle damage is a possibility.

The National speaks to Hasan Elhais, of Al Rowaad Advocates in Dubai, to find out what the regulations say about weather-related insurance claims.

Here's a breakdown of important issues you need to know:

Understanding the basics

Insurance is a binding agreement between the insured and the insurance provider to face risks, according to Article 1026 of the Civil Transactions Law.

Damages caused by rain to homes and vehicles are covered by most insurance policies in the UAE.

“However, the ability to claim depends on the wording of your selected insurance policy's coverage and exclusions,” Mr Elhais says.

This means that if the vehicle policy is comprehensive and includes damages from rain and natural disasters, these damages will be covered.

The same applies to home and property insurance policies that cover all risks, including natural calamity.

Reading the fine print

Mr Elhais says it's important to read the fine print of an insurance policy, which many may overlook.

Knowing the details is essential for filing a successful claim as coverage is conditional on the policy's terms and certain situations may be entirely excluded.

“Vehicle and property damages from heavy rain are usually covered by insurance policies, unless weather-related events like storms, hailstorms, and flooding have been specifically excluded,” Mr Elhais says.

“A careful examination of policy language is vital. Ignoring the fine print when availing the cover may lead to surprises later.”

He said exclusions might exist for certain situations, including force majeure events. For an event to be considered force majeure, it must make an obligation impossible to perform.

“Force majeure events are exceptional event or circumstances that could not have been avoided or overcome and are beyond a person’s control,” Mr Elhais says.

If a force majeure event is not covered and occurs, insurance providers might defend against their liability based on Article 287 of the UAE Civil Transactions Law.

“Under this article, a party is not liable for damages if it can be shown that the loss resulted from a force majeure event," Mr Elhais adds.

“However, if the policy wording includes coverage against a force majeure event, such as natural disaster, then the insurance provider may be under a legal obligation to indemnify the insured."

He says claims can be challenging, especially if the damage was caused by the insured's negligence or lack of care.

“For example, if your vehicle was left parked in a flood-prone area or you were driving through a flooded zone, your claim could be contested based on your policy's coverage and exclusions," Mr Elhais says.

A significant case on the application of force majeure was ruled by Abu Dhabi Court of Cassation in 2021, stating that force majeure must be the only cause of damage for exemption.

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